23. When Not to Tell ’em

“Get on with it!”

Senator Barry Goldwater, the Republican candidate for president in 1964 infamously said, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”1 This view of political policy became a major factor in Mr. Goldwater’s landslide loss to Lyndon Johnson, but it also serves as a warning lesson for presenters. Extremism in any pursuit can overshoot the mark and result in the opposite intent of the pursuit.

One of the most frequently repeated pieces of advice for presenters is to “Tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em, tell ’em, and then tell ’em what you’ve told ’em.” I offer the same advice in my own coaching practice and writing. The intent is to impose and ...

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